The left-tilt of the elite media in this country is no longer much in doubt. Examples of Democratic-cheerleading in the pages of the big newspapers or on CNN and NBC carry all the spark of a "dog bites man" headline. Ho-hum.
We are used to it. We turn to the Fox News Network, and subscribe to The Wall Street Journal, The Weekly Standard, National Review and click on WorldNetDaily and RealClearPolitics. Still, some Democratic-boosterism is so outrageous, and some lefty-pumps so large that they deserve note. Here are three.
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First, I am proud to coin a new term: The Miller-McCain Gap. To calculate the gap, one must total the number of network television minutes devoted to John McCain and the number of minutes devoted to Zell Miller. (Yes, you have to include CNN even though no one's watching anymore.) McCain, of course, is the "maverick" Republican Senator who causes much heartburn within his caucus and is rewarded with huge amounts of ink by the Beltway press corps. Zell Miller plays the same role within the Democratic caucus but remains nearly invisible. Why? Because the producers of shows like Matthews' "Whiffleball" and Russert's "Meet the Cuomo Aide" love stories underscoring troubles within the GOP and avoid stories about problems between and among the Democrats. Keep score in your mind. The Miller-McCain gap is huge and growing. It neatly expresses all that is wrong with the networks (and why, by the way, Fox News is killing all other cable networks).
Example No. 2 of egregious media bias comes from, where else, the Left Angeles Times, a former newspaper now reconfigured as the press room for Gray Davis. In fact, Monday's paper carried an offering from Sacramento columnist "Slumberin'" George Skelton that set a new standard for obsequiousness to Davis, even by this "paper's" standards. It literally begins this way: "The phone rang and it was the governor. 'Just wanted to talk a little bit about electricity,' he said. 'I think we are on the verge of breaking the exorbitant spot market. ...'" What follows is a full column that reads like the press release from the Davis re-election campaign, which is what it is. Not a whisper of a hard question from George; not one quote to the contrary from a GOP elected official to balance the governor's propaganda; and certainly not one line about the $30,000 a month in taxpayer dollars that Davis is pumping to Gore operatives turned "consultants," Mark Fabiani and Chris Lehane or their ongoing ties to Southern California Edison. Of course not, that would constitute reporting, and as such, is banned at the Times. Again, if you want to call this to the attention of the folks at the Times' mother ship, Chicago's Tribune Company, e-mail the chairman and the president of the newspaper division, John Madigan and Jack Fuller, respectively.
Example 3 is an indictment of the entire press corps, national and statewide in California. Last Thursday, the education bureaucrats at the California Department of Education issued a press release detailing the results of the first-ever administration of the California High School Exit Exam. The test was not given to seniors. In fact, no one has to pass the test until 2004. But the law says that beginning that year either you pass or no diploma. So it was given to freshmen to get an idea of the size of the problem. The results are stunning. But they were also camouflaged and the deception has apparently worked.
First, the Democrat in charge of the department lowered the "passing" score from the traditional 70 percent to 60 percent on the English section and 55 percent on the math. A few short stories on this ludicrous redefinition of "passing" followed, (though I could not find one in the Left Angeles Times.) These brief stories did not ask the obvious question: Using 70 percent, how many of the freshmen would have passed? Reporters also missed other obvious questions: "Why didn't you give seniors the test to establish a baseline from which improvement could be charted? Why didn't you give the test to students graduating from, say, Texas high schools to establish comparison data? Why didn't you publish the geographic break-down of test results?"
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The reporting that did occur was stunning enough. Only 65 percent "passed" the English portion of the test, and only 45 percent "passed" the math portion (which means, of course, that less than 45 percent of these kids could earn a diploma today). Defenders of the California education establishment have written to me in the aftermath of a radio show on which I discussed these results to urge that these are freshmen and have three years of learning ahead of them. They are right of course, but no one is telling me what the expected level of improvement is. I am not an optimist.
I am not an optimist because the Department's calculated obfuscation about the depth of the problem is very revealing about the agenda of the education bureaucracy. Rather than set out the dismal facts and probe for the real level of learning, the Department is covering up from the get-go, lowering the "passing" bar and prettying up the prospects. Absent a hard look at the real data, who can trust these people or the unGovernor to tell us the truth. Sure, the kids will get plenty of chances to pass the test, but my guess is that the test will be jettisoned or so dumbed-down as to mean nothing. And another generation of students will be sacrificed in the service of political careers.
So there you have three examples of naked media bias: Over-reporting McCain; glowing coverage of Gray Davis; and non-coverage of the public school meltdown in California. As I wrote above, it’s just more "Dog Bites Man."